Of course, when Bill “Evil” Gates starts defending your actions, you know you’ve done something wrong:
However, Mr Gates argued today that freedom of information is available in China, despite sites discussing issues such as Tiananmen Square and Taiwan being blocked.
“I do think information flow is happening in China … saying that even by existing there contributions to a national dialogue have taken place. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s been a huge plus.”
Google also defends itself as well on the Google Blog:
Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn’t a step we took lightly. For several years, we’ve debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values. Our executives have spent a lot of time in recent months talking with many people, ranging from those who applaud the Chinese government for its embrace of a market economy and its lifting of 400 million people out of poverty to those who disagree with many of the Chinese government’s policies, but who wish the best for China and its people. We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most effectively further Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to information to the greatest number of people?
Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world’s population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that.
You see, Google’s doing this for the greater good. Which really isn’t that implausible I guess, but I still don’t like it. But what can be done? All the major search engines have grabbed their ankles for China (Yahoo! did something especially nasty, as Bob points out). I guess Google was on a pedestal considering it’s past history, it’s commitment to free services, and it’s motto “Do no evil.” I guess it still does no evil . . . no evil to it’s stockholders.